Tangerine (Mangan)

Christine Mangan, 2018
320 pp.

The last person Alice Shipley expected to see since arriving in Tangier with her new husband was Lucy Mason. After the accident at Bennington, the two friends—once inseparable roommates—haven’t spoken in over a year.

But there Lucy was, trying to make things right and return to their old rhythms.

Perhaps Alice should be happy. She has not adjusted to life in Morocco, too afraid to venture out into the bustling medinas and oppressive heat. Lucy—always fearless and independent—helps Alice emerge from her flat and explore the country.

But soon a familiar feeling starts to overtake Alice—she feels controlled and stifled by Lucy at every turn.

Then Alice’s husband, John, goes missing, and Alice starts to question everything around her: her relationship with her enigmatic friend, her decision to ever come to Tangier, and her very own state of mind.

Tangerine is a sharp dagger of a book—a debut so tightly wound, so replete with exotic imagery and charm, so full of precise details and extraordinary craftsmanship, it will leave you absolutely breathless. (From the publisher.)

Author Bio
Where—Detroit, Michigan, USA
Raised—Long Island, New York, and North Carolina
Education—B.A., Columbia College Chicago; M.A., University of Southern Maine; Ph.D., University   College Dublin
Currently—lives in Brooklyn, New York City

Christine Mangan has her PhD in English from University College Dublin, where her thesis focused on 18th-century Gothic literature, and an MFA in fiction writing from the University of Southern Maine. Tangerine is her first novel. (From the publisher.)

Book Reviews
It's as if Mangan couldn't decide whether to write a homage to Donna Tartt's The Secret History or a sun-drenched novel of dissolute Westerners abroad in the tradition of Patricia Highsmith and Paul Bowles, so she tried to do both. She mostly succeeds…[Mangan] knows all the notes to hit to create lush, sinister atmosphere and to prolong suspense…Tangerine [is]…a satisfying, juicy thriller.
Jennifer Reese - New York Times Book Review

The reader’s sympathy switches back and forth between Lucy and Alice as their Moroccan reunion moves inexorably toward another fatal crossroads. But caveat lector: Tangerine, like its namesake fruit, can be both bracing and bitter.
Wall Street Journal

The lying, the cunning, and the duplicity is so very mannered that it’s chilling. Rich in dread, the foreboding positively drips from every page.
Washington Post

Unbelievably tense, incredibly smart.… Mangan full-speeds up to her shocking finale, twisting the plot with reveals you never see coming.… [Her] writing is so accomplished, so full of surprises and beauty, that you’d swear she was a seasoned pro.
San Francisco Chronicle

A juicy melodrama cast against the sultry, stylish imagery of North Africa in the fifties.… [Tangerine is] endearing and even impressive in the force of its determination to conjure a life more exciting than most.… Just the ticket.
New Yorker

The amoral, manipulative presence of Patricia Highsmith’s Tom Ripley hovers over Tangerine.… An assured and atmospheric debut.
Guardian (UK)

The thriller that everyone will be talking about.… One of those sinuous, Hitchcockian tales that disorients in the best way.… Hypnotic.

Promises to be one of the best debuts of the year.… Echoes of Gillian Flynn and Patricia Highsmith in this tightly wound, exotic story.
Entertainment Weekly

Although some of the plot developments are easy to predict, the novel is narrated persuasively in alternating chapters…, and Mangan’s portrayal of Tangier is electric.… [A] sharp novel.
Publishers Weekly

Atmospheric enough to be a movie? You bet; George Clooney's Smokehouse Pictures bought the film rights, with Scarlett Johansson set to star. No wonder this debut is getting a 200,000-copy first printing.
Library Journal

Hypnotic.… [A] deadly, Hitchcockian pas de deux plays out under an unrelenting, Camus-like African sun.… Sucks the reader in almost instantly.

In 1956, a pair of college roommates meets again in Tangier, with terrifying results.… A vivid setting and a devious, deadly plot, though the first is a bit overdone and the second contains a few head-scratchers, including the evil-lesbian trope.
Kirkus Reviews

Discussion Questions
We'll add publisher questions if and when they're available; in the meantime, use our LitLovers talking points to help start a discussion for TANGERINE … then take off on your own:

1. How would you describe the two women at the heart of Tangerine? In what ways are they different from one another? Do they share any similarities? At first, were you drawn more to Alice or Lucy? Or neither?

2. What creates the bond between the two women? During the height of their friendship, each feels incomplete without the other. What does Lucy receive from Alice, and Alice from Lucy, that fulfills some part of themselves?

3. The chapters alternate between Alice's voice and Lucy's. How do their memories of Bennington diverge? In what way are both women untrustworthy or unreliable as narrators?

4. Trace the change in Alice and Lucy's relationship over the course of the novel, starting with their time at Bennington and "the incident"? When and why do the cracks first appear?

5. Follow-up to Question 4: What went through Alice's mind the day she found Lucy dressed up in her (Alice's) clothes? And the charm bracelet—care to tackle that one? Lucy appears to be "gaslighting" Alice, but to what purpose?

6. When Lucy turns up in Tangier, Alice recalls Shakespeare's line in The Tempest, "what's past is prologue." What does she mean?

7. Talk about Alice and John's marriage? In what way is Alice portrayed as a woman of the 1950s, educated but without a career, living at the behest of her husband and his job. And once Lucy meets John, she's on to him. What do you think? Is she right to insinuate herself into their marriage, to attempt to pull Alice away from her husband?

8. How do each of the women react to the city of Tangier, and what do their individual reactions say about who they are?

9. How does Christine Mangan depict Tangier. Youssef tells Lucy, “If you are looking for a place that makes sense, I feel I must provide this warning—you will be disappointed." In what way does the backdrop of the city, as well as the country's politics, reflect or enhance the mood and plot?

10. Talk about the dual meaning of the title, both as a juicy fruit and as a "woman of Tangiers," who disappears into the background.

11. Ultimately, what does Lucy want: to take over Alice's life or create a new one for herself?

12. The book is full of literary allusions (subtle and not so subtle) to other well-known novels. Can you pick a few out? Think Daphne du Maurier, Patricia Highsmith, Paul Bowles, even Hitchcock (see cover).

(Questions by LitLovers. Please feel free to use them, online and off, with attribution. Thanks.)

top of page (summary)

Site by BOOM Boom Supercreative

LitLovers © 2020